The Lakers won the trade…
This trade for mixed reviews in LA.
A lot of fans are upset with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka for trading away two productive fan favourites in Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. That’s where the Laker sentimentality comes into play.
Here’s the thing. I think the Lakers won that trade.This is a move that showed the intentions of the Lakers moving forward. They’re focusing on both #TheFuture and #FutureLakers.
The franchise has made it clear who their priorities are for player development. With the emergence of Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma, Clarkson and Nance suddenly became expendable. The Lakers cut down their young core and are focusing on four key players, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kuzma and Hart (Sorry, Randle). This is the the young core they’ll be selling to the second part of their two-pronged approach.
The Lakers also made it clear that signing a superstar free agent is their main play, whether it’s this year or next year. They traded away Clarkson and Nance’s contracts for expiring contracts to make enough room to sign a big name player this year. If they fail, they sign a couple of one-year rentals like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez and repeat for 2019. This move hinges of course on the improvement of their young core. But what’s important is that they have the flexibility to shape the roster moving forward.
There’s also the Isaiah Thomas angle in all of this. Thomas is a year removed from being an All-Star that finished third in scoring. If things work out, he could return to his All-Star form and lead the Lakers to more wins in the second half of the season. It’s a big IF, but it’s also not out of the realm of possibility.
… but the Cavaliers did too
The biggest thing about this trade for the Cleveland Cavaliers is also the IT angle. It was clear that he didn’t bring his All-Star game from last year, he only brought the blame game. It just wasn’t working between Thomas and the Cavaliers. He was poisoning the team with his controversial comments and constant finger-pointing. That would have been fine if he were putting up the numbers and helping the team win., But he averaged only 14.7 points on 36% shooting. The Cavs have also lost eight of the 15 games he played in.
This trade eases the drama in Cleveland and gives them a fresh start with younger, more productive players. Here’s where MY Laker sentimentality comes in. The Cavs got great pieces that can really help them immediately.
Clarkson is a combo guard that plays hard on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he’s not afraid to attack the hoop and create plays for his teammates and for himself. Defensively, he’s a guard with big size who actually tries on defense. Clarkson is also a player that won’t balk at the idea at coming off the bench. This is god for chemistry as JR Smith can keep his starting spot.
Nance Jr. is a big man version of Jordan Clarkson. He will attack the rim without any fear and has the ability to rise above rim protectors. He gives LeBron James another target for lobs and rolls to the hoop. Nance is an active defender that does his job as a help defender in the paint or contain wings when he switches onto them. The best part about the Cavaliers getting Nance Jr. is that he can rock his dad’s jersey during the Slam Dunk Contest!
The Cavs have set themselves up well for the future, with or without LeBron James
In a matter of minutes the Cavaliers suddenly became a younger, more dynamic team with the acquisition of Clarkson, Nance, Rodney Hood and George Hill.
The average age of the 6 players reportedly traded away by the Cavaliers is 30.7 years old.
The average age of the 4 players reportedly acquired by the Cavaliers is 27.0 years old. pic.twitter.com/kRP4mcAgCv
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 8, 2018
The trades also improve the Cavaliers defensively, an area where they need help the most. The Cavaliers are awful on defense. They’re allowing 110.2 points per game (3rd worst), at 47.7% shooting (2nd worst). They have the second worst Defensive Rating in the league at 109.9 points per 100 possessions.
The six players they traded away had an average Defensive Rating of 109.8 points and accounted for only 1.9 estimated Defensive Win Shares.
They Cavs get slight bump down in Defensive Rating with their four new players but double their Defensive Win Shares.
Rodney Hood is a long 3DA wing in the mold of Trevor Ariza. He can knock down open shots and defend the opposing team’s best wing player. He’s the player the Cavaliers envisioned Jae Crowder to be this year. George Hill is a bit older and a bit slower. But he’s a no frills point guard that will run the offense and who doesn’t need to be hid defensively.
Hood, Hill, Nance and Clarkson are all plug and play guys who can fill in gaps in the Cavaliers roster. They can start, come off the bench, close games or provide production in spurts, depending on the needs of the team. On paper, the Cavaliers are better today than they were yesterday. It’s all a matter of chemistry now. Can the new look Cavaliers gel before the Playoffs begin?
This trade doesn’t just determine this season. It also ensures the future of the Cavs moving forward. Cleveland was able to hold on to the biggest asset they had, the Brooklyn Nets pick. If James stays, then they bring in a top five pick to Playoff ready roster.
If he leaves, then the Cavaliers have secured a lot of pieces who are mostly under contract for the next two years. They can trot out a line-up with the four new players, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and a versatile big man (Mo Bamba, Jaren Jackson Jr., Michael Porter Jr.) or a scoring wing (Wendell Carter, Colin Sexton). This is a team that can still reach the Playoffs in the East.
At the very least, the Cavs get some good karma for sending Dwyane Wade back home to Miami (an making the Wade Miami Vice jerseys possible).
Update: These are beautiful. ???? pic.twitter.com/35mHy7zyCC
— Polo Bustamante (@polo_bustamante) February 9, 2018
Hornacek could make Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina work
Fans of the Franchise were upset when the New York Knicks acquired another point guard to play ahead of Ntlikina. Then again Knicks fans are always upset about something. Once they’re done kicking rocks, they’ll realize that acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay only gives them two big, athletic combo guards that Jeff Hornacek can utilize together.
You have to remember, back in 2013, it was Hornacek that made the dual point guard system work in Phoenix. Back then he had Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe running confusing two-man games with Channing Frye. The Knicks won’t see the effect of this trade this season. But next season, Hornacek can run the same plays with Mudiay, Ntilikina and Kristaps Porzingis who will fill the role of Frye.
Mudiay and Ntilikina aren’t the scoring machines that Dragic and Bledsoe are. But they have the size and explosiveness to make plays when the defense is imbalanced. Which is the idea when they run around Porzingis screens.
Plus both have made strides as shooters this season. Mudiay is hitting 37.3% of his 2.4 attempts from beyond the arc. Ntilikina is hitting 32.6% of his shots from outside as a rookie. In comparison Bledsoe 35.7% of his 3.3 attempts in 2013 while Dragic was making 40.8% of his 3.9 attempts in the same year.
Mudiay was the best point guard available in the market at that point and all it cost the Knicks was Doug McDermott and a second round pick. That’s a steal for a player with Mudiay’s potential.
The Pistons have made underrated good moves
Lost in the Cavaliers trading frenzy were a couple of good moves by the Detroit Pistons to further strengthen their roster.
The Blake Griffin trade is proving to be a big win for the Pistons. The Pistons have won seven straight games, four straight since Griffin started playing with them. Griffin looks re-energized and is averaging 21.5 points, 6.3 assists and 7.8 rebounds as a Piston. He’s given the team a punch offensively with Reggie Jackson still out due to injury. Griffin has formed a Bad Boy front court with Andre Drummond. Both are tough, sturdy big men with complimentary skill sets. Drummond does the dirty work inside while Griffin can work in the midrange and set everyone up.
Their latest acquisition that was literally announced in the middle of two Cavalier trades was James Ennis. They converted Brice Johnson, an end of the bench player into James Ennis, a useful rotation player. Ennis is a capable scorer who the Pistons can pair with Reggie Bullock or Luke Kennard, playing either wing position.
The Pistons have a tough road ahead to make it back to the Playoff picture. But they’ve set themselves up well for a second half run with Griffin and Drummond leading the way.
The Warriors watched the world burn from their Golden (State) Tower
Nope. Even with all those moves, the Cavaliers still aren’t better than the Warriors.
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